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The Burmese government’s new chief peace negotiator, Tin Myo Win, is expected to meet in the near future with representatives of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), two of the ethnic armed groups that declined to sign a ceasefire with the Burmese military last year.
Hla Maung Shwe, the secretary of Tin Myo Win’s governmental sub-committee tasked to liaise with non-signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, said the Wa and Mongla groups have agreed to sit for talks with him, and that the parties are currently negotiating a date and location for the meeting.
“Our committee’s chairman is in direct negotiations with the groups to arrange a rendezvous with them soon. We are still considering a date and location for the meeting,” said Hla Maung Shwe, adding that the government envoy intends to explain the new government’s policies to the ethnic militias.
Sai Pao Nat, a former official in the Wa Democratic Party, said he welcomed the government’s move, saying it ensures an element of inclusiveness in the so-called “21st Century Panglong Conference”, a term coined to echo the 1947 meetings at which Burmese independence hero Aung San (the father of Suu Kyi) sat for peace talks with Shan, Chin and Kachin representatives.
“We need peace in our country, and we can only attain success through a political dialogue that is inclusive of all ethnic voices,” said Sai Pao Nat.
“The majority of the Wa ethnic population lives inside the UWSA territory,” he added, “and so we believe they will be able to reflect our voice in the talks.”
Last week, Tin Myo Win met in Thailand with officials of the United Nationalities Federal Council, the main alliance of ethnic armed groups.
His task now is to hold productive talks with the UWSA and NDAA, as well as future rounds of negotiations with other non-signatories: the Ta’ang National Liberation Army; the Kokang-based Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army; and the Arakan Army.